One of the major achievements of the past year is the relative ease with which people have shifted to remote working. Given that for construction, the workforce has always been split across multiple sites, you would expect that remote working was therefore embedded within the industry. However, that is not the case (especially in certain professions).
With restrictions continuing to loosen and workplaces opening back up, it is important to remember the lessons we have gained during lockdown – there are signs that remote working and the digitisation of the construction industry offers a route to a more effective, responsive industry for the longer term.
On the remote side, it is all about connectivity and ensuring that you get the right information to the right people at the right time. One of the effects of COVID-19 is that many sites now operate on a hybrid model of ‘bring your own device’ (BYOD) and company-provided equipment.
It is important then that tools easily integrate and share data effectively. The ultimate aim is that you can connect every stage of the project from design through to handover and gain a better understanding of the various processes involved throughout. This data is very powerful and brings the project team closer together with everyone utilising the same information.
The digitisation of the construction industry is making it more efficient
Construction requires a lot of documentation, built up at every stage of a project. It is an area where software can help companies make the largest gains.
Take this example from structural and civil engineering company Walsh Group. The firm saved around £10,000 (AU$18,500) in printing costs after investing in tablets for site teams.
As a result, they could easily link 2D and 3D drawings together with key information and observations made on-site. This helped to cut down on mistakes because teams had the latest, most accurate drawings available electronically, whenever they were needed.
A simple solution, but one that makes sense both from a risk management and environmental perspective.
And, having information accessible in real time makes it possible for team members and managers to make more informed decisions about projects. This is especially helpful when it comes to site safety, quality and efficiency – all areas that should be kept on top of on a daily basis across every project.
Bringing digital tools together
When implementing new tools, look for those that easily integrate with your existing systems and workflows. This could be via simple plugins or add-ons or compatible APIs that help the two tools communicate with each other. This interoperability is essential. If you can, avoid a complete overhaul of what you have unless your current tools are not fit for purpose – changing what you already have to make space for a new piece of software adds considerable cost and time to the project.
Keeping it simple also makes it easier to scale quickly as you can train teams faster and roll out the new software in stages.
Of course, you do not have to fully commit upfront. Small pilot projects and mini rollouts offer a perfect way to test and learn a new system. It gives you the opportunity to make sure that it is fit for purpose before a full organisational rollout. These people then become your internal champions and can help you to secure buy-in when the wider implementation happens.
Where possible, bring in the wider project team beyond your business too. The more the industry shares and aligns along these new ways of working, the faster construction can improve.
The benefits of the digitisation of the construction industry
To help companies understand the benefits that construction software can deliver, Bluebeam has developed an easy-to-use online quiz. By selecting simple data such as your industry role (e.g. architect or quantity surveyor) and common tasks that your job involves it will identify the estimated cost and time savings that can be expected after implementing new software.
These tasks cover the pre-construction phase, delivery and project handover. With improvements possible across many stages of existing workflows, the difference is often significant.
Find out how construction software will help your business by taking the quiz here.